Rehabilitating repeat offenders prevents more crime

APD and AFT on scene at the accident. / Sarah Bleau

The two 22-year-old men arrested in connection with the high speed chase that killed a police officer on Friday had a long rap sheet, according to Albany Police Chief John Proctor.

"It was the result of a criminal action by two persons that have a long criminal history in this community," says Proctor.

Dougherty County District Attorney Greg Edwards says Kentrell Bernard Butler and Wesley Martavi Wilkerson may have juvenile records, and he says he learned they have records in other districts.

"I've been given some preliminary information that they may have been involved in other robberies; one or more of them may have been involved in other robberies," says Edwards.

Recidivism: It is the word for when a person gets out of jail, then commits a new crime.

To prevent recidivism, Edwards says they work on what he calls a "triad system" with criminals.

"Prevention, intervention and restoration; we have to get them to be restores or rehabilitated as best we can with the notion that we want them to not reoffend," says Edwards. "We may need to work harder on that leg of the triad, (restoration) because if we're having repeat offenders then, again, the notion must be that we got to give them alternatives to crime."

According to research by the Georgia Department of Corrections, 44 percent of inmates brought to the Dougherty County Jail in 2010 had at least one prior record; more than half of them had two or more previous incarcerations.

Edwards says recidivism is occurs commonly for Dougherty County in ages 17 to 25; he says to prevent repeat offenders, perhaps what criminals need is more time behind bars.

"Age and experience makes them smarter and makes them realize you can't defeat the world by doing what you're doing; you're not going to be able to survive by doing what you're doing," he says. "As they get a little older, they become a little wiser, and learn that you cannot survive by crime, you cannot make a living by crime, you cannot prosper by crime."

Edwards says providing more education opportunities and training to inmates when they leave jail may help rehabilitate them and prevent them from reoffending. He says this would require sincere efforts by the inmates as well.